Trinidad de Cuba
Situated in the central province of Sancti Spiritus, the formerly called Villa de la Santísima Trinidad (Holy Trinity) was founded in 1514 and was one of the first seven villages the Spanish conquistadors founded on the Cuban archipelago.
Trinidad, also known as Cuba's Museum City, has the privilege of being one of the country's colonial cities, and has one of the most complete and well-preserved architectural environments in the American continent.
Declared a World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1988, and a must in the conquest of new territories during Spanish colonial times, Trinidad was founded on the banks of the Guaurabo River, where the Spaniards found an aboriginal population that they used as slave labor force, as well as fertile lands and excellent ports to prepare their expeditions.
A true treasure containing the most varied wealth, the village expanded in the 16th century, due to the incipient development of the sugar industry, and grew into an urban nucleus of singular iron-wrought railings, beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets.
According to history, the site chosen by Conquistador Diego Velázquez to found the village was where the Martí Park is currently located. It was there where the first mass was officiated by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, under the shadow of a big "jigüe" tree.
Big, comfortable colonial-style houses, palaces where luxury and waste went hand in hand to integrate into Cuban colonial art, turn Trinidad into an undisputable urban and architectural crown jewel.
The characteristic decoration of Trinidad's houses is based on neoclassic ornamentation, which is shown in murals, molds, wooden frameworks and beautiful iron-wrought railings. All of these constitute one of the city's major charms.
In the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the central axis of the former village, stands a statue of Terpsichore, the muse of dance and music, accompanied by the singular beauty of the Church of the Holy Trinity, a loyal guardian of valuable religious treasures.
Those treasures include the Christ of Vera Cruz and a marble altar dedicated to the Virgin of Mercy, the only one of its kind in the country.
The Santa Ana and Tres Cruces (Three Crosses) squares, the Saint Francis Belfry and many small palaces contribute their unique beauty to the city, where major efforts are made every year to preserve the centennial buildings.
Among the most relevant buildings is the Palace of Count Brunet, which houses the Romantic Museum and whose first owner was also linked to the construction of a theater that bore his name, and of the railroad between city and the Port of Casilda.
The museum's 14 halls feature decorative pieces of porcelain and glass, many of which were directly ordered from European manufacturers.
Other relevant buildings are the Palace of Cantero, a three-story house with a lookout on top, and the Palace of Borrel, which is famous for the paintings on the walls.
A dozen kilometers from the village sits Ancón Beach, whose white sands are bathed by the warm Caribbean Sea, in an environment that invites visitors to practice nautical sports, including scuba diving in some 30 sites.
The Costasur Hotel, one of the symbols of sun and beach tourism in Trinidad, stands out among the region's hotels. The establishment offers 140 rooms, some of which are Spanish colonial-style bungalows.
Another hotel is the 200-room Trinidad del Mar, which covers an area of five hectares and whose architectural style is characterized by arcs, red tiles, squares and cobblestone streets.
Not too far from the city's historic center is the Las Cuevas Hotel, named after a group of caves in the hill where it was built over four decades ago and which form part of the establishment.
The Ancón Hotel, in the peninsula of the same name, and the María Dolores Villa, where vacationers can enjoy local countryside traditions and stay in air-conditioned cabins, complement Trinidad's infrastructure for leisure.